Web Services

Google Needs "Public Editor" Like at NYT

Normally I love all the new releases from Google.  I give them the benefit of the doubt, and know they will refine them to make them even better.  However, the release of Buzz indicates that sometimes Google can get ahead of itself. I appreciate the intention of Buzz and can see how powerful it could become.  At the same time I found the user interface awkward because it was never clear to me with whom I was sharing an entry.  Now the recent news about how Buzz was making my contacts list public caused me great alarm.  My biggest fears were realized. I immediately turned off the service (bottom of the Gmail front page). This latest slip adds to the growing amount of concern I hear every day about what Google does with its data.  We all know they make lots of money from selling advertising on their sites, based on targeting ads according the data.  But what does that really mean? I believe Google would be wise to borrow a concept from the New York Times, who have appointed a Public Editor to listen to the readers, be an advocate for the public, and essentially keep them honest.  As a regular New York Times reader I have been impressed with some of the dust ups the Public Editor has taken on, and my overall impression is the role has improved the paper's credibility. Google's watchdog would need a different name, such as Privacy Advocate, but the intention could be the same.  The advocate would consider the user's data privacy and security concerns, review all Google offerings and practices for compliance, and speak out loudly when there are issues.  The most important thing would be for the person appointed to have the credibility, fire in the belly, and independence to do the job well and instill confidence.
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Security Imperative for Cloud Computing

The recent New York Times article, Is Our Data Too Vulnerable in the Cloud?, points out the real concerns and risks of our storing all our data in "the Cloud". While some of the commenters point out that many of these security concerns apply as well to data stored on enterprise servers, laptops, and desktops -- the perceptions and fears are real.  Any further hiccups in cloud computing can set back the growth of these services, as a result of low user confidence. As evidence consider how many people we all know still fear paying bills by internet. What is needed  is for cloud computing service providers to display the equivalent of a "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval" to certify their data security is up to the standards of the best enterprises.  This will help consumers and CIOs feel more comfortable leaving their data in the cloud. To be effective this certification needs to address network and physical security, and also needs to apply global standards to meet the different needs of different jurisdictions.  For example the theory of cloud computing is that we should not care where in the world our data is stored; but EU enterprises have stricter privacy rules than many others and need to know their data security is up to EU standards regardless where it resides. Who will provide this certification? Perhaps auditors? Perhaps anew entity that creates a trusted brand? Someone ought to. Soon.
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